So, you just signed up for Google Analytics, you finally got your code installed correctly, you just opened your first PDF report that was e-mailed to you, and your first comment was, “YIKES! Where do I start?”
The first thing to realize is that there are entire professions based on analyzing website data so unless you plan on venturing down that path, don’t get wrapped around the axle trying to understand every nuance of your report. Just focus on the basics.
Google Analytics report provides invaluable data that enables you the measure the effectiveness of your Internet Marketing plan. It will help you to visualize if your site is generating traffic well or there are some revisions that need to be made. But don’t worry about sudden fluctuations. The natural ebb and flow of your site data will vary. Some weeks and months will have peaks and others will have valleys, but it is important not to get hung up on random spikes. Rather, focus on trends and performance over time.
To begin understanding how it works, there are a few areas you need to pay attention to. Here are a few to get you started.
Visits. These are great but it measures all the human visitors traffic that hits your site, even if most of it comes from the same person visiting the site 10 times per day. If that person is you, the site owner, it could artificially inflate your impression of traffic.
Visitors. It is an accurate reflection of unique visitors who aren’t repeats.
Bounce Rate. This tells you how many people are hitting just one page of your site and then leaving without navigating to another page. The lower rate the better, usually under 40% is considered good but it will differ from site to site. A high bounce rate could indicate a bad keyphrase in your paid search marketing campaign.
Page/visit. You like to see an average of 3 pages per visit or higher. This is counting the average number of pages of your site that the visitor opened or visited.
Average time on the Site. This is the average time spent by the visitor on the site. The higher average time on the site spent the better. Usually 1 ½ minutes or more is good, but it will depend on the content.
Content overview. This tells you which pages on your site are most popular and therefore, most important to your visitors.
Traffic Sources. The left hand column shows the top 5 most popular ways people found your site. The Google organic (free traffic) and Google CPC (pay per click, if you are running it) will end up your top sources over time more than likely.
Keywords. This is my personal favorite as it shows what keyphrases your visitors were using to find your site. It give clues as to how well – or how poorly – optimized your site is.
These are but a few terms that beginners should know. Study the reports periodically with your website consultant or marketing director to ensure your site is performing at its highest level. Once you start grasping the basics, you can start experimenting with more advance features of Google Analytics. But that’s for another article.